Futurama and information theory

According to the article The Truth About Bender’s Brain in the May 2009 issue of IEEE Spectrum, one of the writers of Futurama, Ken Keeler, “confirms that he does read every issue of IEEE Spectrum and occasionally looks at the Transactions on Information Theory.” So is it true that source coding people are more funny than channel coding people?


Postprint server for the California Digital Library

I’m surprised that there are fewer people using the Postprint server at the California Digital Libary (CDL). This is a service for University of California students, staff, and faculty that lets you post your paper in its final version and makes it freely available. The nice thing is that they pay attention to all the copyright details for you so you don’t have to sort that out. There are a few good reasons to use it : (a) it’s good to archive your work with your “employer,” (b) it helps promote open access to postprints for disciplines which don’t use ArXiV, and (c) they can give you statistics on number of downloads.

Just looking through it seems that a small fraction of the papers written by UC people make it into the repository. The University of California does not have a mandate for open access like Harvard does, but provides this as an option. As Michael Mitzenmacher has noted, mandates can become tricky, which is why the CDL’s managing of the copyright thing is nice.

Students = lemmings?

Apparently students are lemmings:

But a new study by a trio of international researchers finds that college undergraduates let their peers influence their choice of major, often leading them into careers that were not best suited to their skills — and ultimately diminished their income… if the study’s results hold up, students might be encouraged to think for themselves.

The whole thing seems a little suspect to me, and I’m not sure it really generalizes to the US. They studied business students at an Italian university with two choices only (business or economics) and then had a number of group divisions like “ability driven” and “peer driven” to divide them. It just sounds like way too many variables to control for.

However, reading the article reminded me of the game Lemmings, which was awesome in that early 90s way…